Who Qualifies for a Visitor Visa to USA?

According to data published by the US Department of Commerce International Trade Administration, a record 77.5 million international visitors travelled to the US in 2015, 3% up from the 2014 level. In fact, the number will only grow in the near future, with 94.1 million visitors expected to visit the country by 2021, rising 16 million from 2015, according to a forecast published by ITA International Trade Administration.

America has always been one of the most desirable destinations to travel to, whether for business or leisure. However, regardless of the purpose of the visit, you will need a visa to enter the country if you aren’t a US citizen.

What is Visitor Visa?

The US authorities issue visitor’s visas to all travelers interested in a short trip to the country. While the B-1 visa is issued for business travel, those visiting America for recreational purposes should apply for a B-2 visa, also known as a visitor visa or non-immigrant visa.

And when we talk of leisure travel under the B-2 visitor visa, people usually visit the US for amusement, medical treatment, to visit friends or relatives, all of which are considered legitimate activities of a recreational nature under the US State Department’s regulations.

Leisure travel may also include sightseeing, attending conferences, participation by amateurs in non-paying sports and musical events or contests, participation in social events hosted by social, fraternal, or service organizations, and taking short classes or recreational courses of study.

Who can Qualify?

During the in-person visa interview, the consular officer will question you about the reason for your visit. They will need to ensure that your trip plan includes your departure and that you do not intend a permanent stay in the US.

The applicant needs to prove the below mentioned points, both verbally and by showing documentary proof, to be able to obtain a visitor visa:

  1. Visiting the US for a Short Period:
    To be eligible for a B-2 tourist visa, the applicant needs to prove to the US immigration authorities that they intend to stay in America for a limited, specific period of time. Applicants can use maps, schedules and even return flight tickets to ensure clarity about the length of stay.
  2. Travelling for Leisure Purposes:
    Your purpose of visiting should be solely for pleasure or to receive medical treatment, whichever is applicable in your case. For a visitor’s visa, candidates above the age of 60 years, who have travelled to other countries before, have positive chances of being approved.
  3. Have Financial Means to Support the Trip:
    Staying in the US can cost you a small fortune. Expenses like food, tickets, hotel stay, rental cars, etc., are enough to burn a hole in the pocket of a person with limited means. This is why the US government ensures that you are capable of bearing your expenses or have someone in the US (sponsoring friend or relative) who can do so for you.
  4. Have Residence Outside the US:
    It is mandatory for the applicant to prove that they own a residence in a country other than the US, along with the existence of family and a stable job, when applying for a B-2 tourist visa. The authorities find this to be a compelling reason for the visitor to return to their home country.

Do you know that pleasure activities cannot include visiting the US to study, for employment or paid performances. You also cannot arrive as a crew member on a ship or aircraft, or for journalism and permanent residence in the US on a visitor’s visa.

So there you have it. Hope you now have an idea about what visitor visa is and who and what qualifies for it.

If you have any questions, please do let me know.


About the author

Mani Karthik

Hi, Mani Karthik here. Having lived in USA, India & Middle East, and worked for big MNC’s to startups, I have a lot to share with you. My aim is to help people, by sharing everything I’ve learned in life. This blog is read today, by more than 150K people world over! I currently live in LA, California and visit India occasionally. Here’s my full story. Connect with me on FacebookInstagram, Twitter or WhatsApp (+001-408-489-4785). Happy to help! :)

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